It’s day two and we are up with the sun. Last night I was offered a bed but opted to sleep on the couch that I’ve known for the last decade. I don’t know that I have slept so well in a long time. Something about the familiarity of my family and even “my” furniture felt heartwarming. I wake up to the sweetest snuggles and kisses on this side of Kansas. And if it weren’t for the smell of coffee luring me into the kitchen I may absolutely melt like butter beneath the laughter and hugs of these Littles. The site of my youngest niece reaching for me has become commonplace and I am certain that I would absolutely die if it ever stopped. We all crowd around the kitchen and the table for breakfast while we decide our plans for the day. It’s not long before the kitchen buzzes with an energy and excitement that only an aunties visit can solicit. The coffee tastes rich and insights a Goldilocks type of stand off as we all fill our cups. I like my coffee like I like my name, Black. Her’s is far too sweet, his is just too sweet and mine is just right. Decisions made, bags filled and tummies busting we head off to Friday market.
The market is actually across the Missouri border. My children always find it fun for me to announce when they have crossed over from one state to another. Our family celebrates it as an ordeal in the car with singing, dancing and general partying. This will be the fourth state they are in during this week alone. At home we have a globe. The kind you would find in a schoolhouse. Only our globe is white and black. The fun of it is that we get the color in the places we’ve been and it is slowly but surely taking on quite a bit of color. From Texas to Oklahoma, into Kansas and then Missouri my kids are in ecstasy with the check marks they know they are putting on their globe.
Arriving at the market the kids are getting excited and Kallena and I respond to them in virtually the same tone with almost the exact same principal language. It’s evident to me that some of my raising of my children is not just genetic or parent related but that I have taken a lot of my context from the Marines. The same correlation would hit me on our way out of the market as both of our children suggested doing lunges, uphill, to get back to the car. She and I are raising our children in a like manner from a very large distance.
The street is alive! There are shops of every kind. There is Asian fusion, Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, American and anything else you could dream up. There is music of all sorts of dynamics and I cannot get enough. My senses are overwhelmed and I am carried away into the fantasy of complacency. The instruments lying around are almost unrecognizable and playfully taunting you to watch them be utilized. People are playing multiple instruments with multiple pieces of their body around every bend. The colors are vibrant and the spices in particular are calling out to me. There’s something magnetic about the city and every one coming out for the bustle of grocery shopping at the market. I have a machta green tea while the kids enjoy their smoothies to cool off beside one of the many music makers. For a moment I am cemented in place. I am breathless. I am taken away by the experiences that my children are accumulating. The view of them standing there, in front of the market and the city line, is so authentic. The joy on their faces and the inherent acceptance of these types of situations is empowering. My children are experiencing a life of travel and exposure that I could only dream of. The eclectic cultures and venues they visit will open their minds beyond boundaries in a way that I would never be able to give them on my own. The city line is in full view and, like most cities, is calling to me. The street graffiti is enamoring as usual. But there’s something magical about being here with my family. All of it.
The street performers are full of fun and high spirits as is the usual precedent for these locales. The “statues” in particular caught my daughters eye. She was very unsure as to whether or not they were dancers or statues. She kept asking them if they were alive. Undecided due to their lack of engagement she insisted upon joining them. I love the spirit of what she sees in life. Stopping every three minutes to hear another singer and take another video I myself am enjoying living my life as a perpetual tourist.
The market is amazing but we are all exhausted from the humidity and the heat. First a quick pit stop for lunch at charming sports bar and pizzeria. The pizza was phenomenal even though our crew of 8 couldn’t finish it all and then we decide to take our show on the road and head to the fountains at the Legends. Watching the Littles cool off in the water and play with each other was heart opening. I did not want to engage. I just wanted to watch our kids play together and grow together all day. But there is much more to see and do so once again we collected the masses and hit the road. Who could ignore the gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex waiting out front of a child’s dream and dig site. We stopped for the usual photo op and enjoyed the science of it all before mulling over for a bit of shopping.
Upon arriving back at the house my godson came in and sheepishly asked me to play catch. My heart soared! The weather was muggy, hot as Hades, and it was worth every second! The joy on that boy’s face and those moments together are a memory I will treasure for a lifetime. I hope he never outgrows this stage! Shortly after we began playing children trickled out of the house to join us. Their laughter and their team effort’s filled me with pride with every toss. Even my travel cohort came out to join us. I don’t think anything could’ve got us to stop and go inside with the exception of my sister’s call for a delicious homemade dinner.
Movie time and more cuddles to wrap up the night and I don’t know how I could ever leave this place. I peek in to check on the kids and I see my niece and my daughter snuggled up together the way Kallena and I had often curled up in the past. I saw the second generation of this friendship blooming and couldn’t help but imagine the third generation. This is a friendship that will never end because of the love and acceptance we feed it. There is a love and devotion, a pride, that can only be found in moments like this. In the simplest of moments that are full of family, full of love and well… Just full.
As always I cannot wait to engage on this journey with you. Please feel free to; like, share and follow of course! Email me your travel suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to sharing this with you!